Venezuela vote a critical test for divided nation

AP News
Posted: Oct 07, 2012 6:35 AM
Venezuela vote a critical test for divided nation

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The polls are opening in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez's crusade to transform Venezuela into a socialist state is being put to the stiffest electoral test of his nearly 14 years in power.

Chavez's challenger, Henrique Capriles, united the opposition for what has become a contest between two camps that distrust each other so deeply there are concerns about a close election result being respected.

If Chavez wins a new six-year term, he gets a free hand to push for an even bigger state role in the economy, further limit dissent and continue to befriend rivals of the United States.

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If Capriles wins, a radical foreign policy shift can be expected along with an eventual loosening of state economic controls and an increase in private investment.